Hello, my name is Tommy. I am a 33 year old man from Norway. I have ADHD and struggle with chronic panic attacks and generalized anxiety disorder.
I am also a front-fighter here in Norway to get cannabis legalized as medication on prescription from your doctor, and a little later I will tell you how I became a “cannabis activist”, and why.
Even though ADHD is said to have a high chance of being passed on from generation to generation, and having a younger brother with ADHD who was diagnosed when I was 12 years old, I wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD before the age of 30 after several years of hassle with my doctors and psychiatrists complaining about having a constant inner unrest, and trouble focusing. I can’t handle bosses or authorities and my school history is a fairytale, having trouble being on the same place over a long period of time, I have trouble sleeping, I have a hard time shutting my brain down, it`s working overtime all day and night.
Despite me telling my doctor and psychiatrists this over and over there was never a question about testing me for ADHD, but instead they started feeding me SSRI medication, also known as antidepressants because it was said to work against anxiety. I told my doctor I wasn’t feeling depressed, but rather worn out of fighting the system and trying to keep my jobs, but my doctor said I showed signs of depression, so I thought okay, she is a doctor, she should know. Boy was I wrong.
After a while I noticed I started to get depressed from the medication, isn’t that weird? Getting depressed from using antidepressants? I told my psychiatrist this but he told me that the chance of that was next to none, and told me to be patient and use the medication a few more months and it should start working.
So once again I thought to myself that he is a psychiatrist so he probably knows what he is talking about. But once again I was wrong, very wrong.
After about two months on the medicine I had an even harder time sleeping, like my ADHD wasn’t enough to keep me awake. I was gritting teeth so bad while sleeping that one of my teeth cracked in 4 pieces.
On top of that I was sweating so bad that when I woke up the few times I fell asleep I had to rush to the window to cool off. I had to change and wash my sheets and such every two days because of side effects from medication which was supposed to make me better.
So once again I told my doctor that this isn’t the right medicine for me, and I told the psychiatrist the same thing, and guess what, they just gave me another type of medication but it was also an antidepressant SSRI medication from another medical company. And the side effects on this one was even worse than the prior medication I got, on top of sweating and gritting teeth at night I now got really depressed and lost the will to do anything, I had the feeling that lightning was passing through my brain and body each time I moved my eyes, I got muscle twitches, muscle cramps, my inner unrest feeling was getting 10 times worse, my sex appetite was utterly gone, I got a rash on my leg after using one of the medicines which still won’t go away. I get dizziness suddenly from time to time and I got so flat in my feelings that I had problems of feeling the difference between joy and sorrow, and the once smiling joyful guy who loved life and adventures became a depressed zombie, and this was also a factor that ruined the relationship I was in at the time.
After a while I started to get tattooed, I always wanted to get some tattoos, but the main reason I started getting tattooed was that I thought feeling pain is better than to feel nothing at all. Another side effect was that the first 2 years I used SSRI Medication my weight went from about 88kg to 130kg. My blood pressure got higher, and my cholesterol went higher.
This is just a fraction of all the bad things I experienced with the medication.
So then I told my doctor that we really need to find a solution and fast, because this is killing me slowly.
So my doctor prescribed another type of the same medication, and on top of that I got some benzodiazepine medication to calm down my anxiety and my unrest, and my doctor thought that the unrest I had was because of my anxiety.
The benzodiazepine medication worked pretty well against my anxiety, but my unrest was still there, even though it was mildly better from this medication, and I managed to sleep at least.
But the problem after a while was that I couldn’t sleep at all without benzodiazepines, and I got withdrawals when I didn’t take the medication.
So for about 10-12 years I was medicated with medicine which made me ill, and on the same time I was supposed to participate in a work rehabilitation program to get me back to work, needless to say this didn’t work at all.
So now I’m put on permanent welfare money, cause I’m too sick to work, and I believe that if my ADHD had been found out much earlier I would have been working now, not getting permanent welfare.
When I finally got to get checked for ADHD I was told that the medication I had been using for the last 10-12 years had probably just made things worse for me, and I was told to stop all medication with SSRI medicines before getting checked further for ADHD.
And the doctors say you don’t get dependant on this type of medication, guess what doctors, that’s not true!
When I stopped using this medication it felt like my body was ripped apart, I puked for days, had muscle cramps, hallucinations, migraine, the lightning feeling in my body was 10 times worse, I got tinnitus, my eyes hurt so bad that I had to wear sunglasses inside, well you get the picture, not so different from withdrawal symptoms from going off hard drugs.
After all this started to settle down a little bit I felt much better than I had felt in years, but the dizziness, sweating, lightning feeling in my brain and body, muscle cramps and twitches and some other side effects still exist today to some extent even though its about 4 years since I quit using the medication.
Over the last 15 years the medication I got tried out on is: Zoloft, Cipramil, Cipralex, Fontex, Seroxat, Effexor, Valium, Vival, Sobril, Rivotril, various sleeping aid medication, I even got started on a medicine against psychosis I don’t remember the name of. Because one of the side effects was that you could get very tired and blunt which would be good for my anxiety and unrest said my doctor, so she said it didn’t hurt to try.
When I got my ADHD diagnosis, the MD who diagnosed me asked me if I would like to try out Ritalin to see if it helped me, but warned me that patients with anxiety problems and specially panic attacks had a very high risk of getting increased anxiety and panic attacks, so I told him that with my former history of wrong medication and lots of bad side effects I didn’t dare to try it out, and he understood me and said that it was probably not a good idea to try it out.
But after reading up on internet I came across a doctor from USA called Dr. David Bearman who had been using cannabis to treat ADHD patients in USA, and I sent him a few mails with some questions, and read up on all I could find on internet about medical cannabis use and ADHD.
After a while I decided to try out cannabis over a period of time, and so I did and used it every day for several months and I got a lot better.
I had no problem sleeping, I could sit at my home for a whole day inside my house and feel calm for the first time in my life, I could visit people without having to go again after an hour max, I could focus much better, the muscle cramps and twitches got better, and the lightning feeling rushing through me seems to almost disappear when I use cannabis. I managed to read a whole book of about 400 pages in 2 weeks, not bad for a guy who rarely opened a book in his entire life?
My anxiety got much better after I started trying cannabis, and for the first time in my life I could manage a whole long, dark, cold winter in Norway without feeling depressed, and that was a strong experience for me who rarely went outside my flat the whole winter.
My motoric functions got better to, when I use cannabis I rarely break anything anymore, I don’t feel clumsy when I use cannabis, I feel like a normal person, I feel in control of my own body!
My temper is a lot better, I can manage to stand in a line in a shop and wait for my turn without going nuts from the waiting, and I rarely get angry any more, earlier I wasn’t a angry guy really, but I had the ability to explode and do stupid things in anger if I got enough unrest and stress. It felt like someone just pulled down some curtains before my eyes and I went mental, but it happened rarely though, cause it took a while for me to get angry, but when I first got angry even I got scared.
The big problem with this is that cannabis is illegal by law in Norway, so it’s really hard to determine the quality on the cannabis you can buy from today’s illegal market, and it’s expensive.
Many times the thought of growing my own medication has passed through my mind, but I don’t dare to do it cause of the possibility of getting thrown in jail, and even worse what would my landlord say if I got caught for it? So the reality now is that I have no choice but to quit using cannabis or use it just once in a while to keep me from going nuts, cause with my welfare money I can’t support buying my own medication.
Therefore I started to contact politicians about this, I talked to my doctor about it, and although my doctor said she couldn’t support this professionally she could believe what I said was true, that this worked for me, and that she wouldn’t tell me to not use it, but she couldn’t support my case, probably because she is scared for what others might say about her as a doctor or that she lacks the knowledge to support me.
So I contacted the Norwegian competence center for ADHD/tourettes syndrome and narcolepsy about my case, and got in touch with a MD who told me she was willing to support my case and make an application for me to use cannabis based medication for my ADHD, but after a few mails she told me that I first had to try out regular medication against my condition before even being considered for medical cannabis despite the fact that I told her about my former history of wrong medication and bad side effects, and that I was scared to death by the thought of trying one more medication I don’t know the side or after effects from, and I told her that trying Ritalin was out of the question after reading about all the people who died from this medication, and pointed out to her that no one have ever died from cannabis use, and that I thought it was unfair that I should have to jeopardize my life trying Ritalin when I already know cannabis is the right medicine for me, but all I got back was: Sorry, if you don’t dare to try out Ritalin I can’t help you any further.
At this point I got so pissed off that I started contacting the government myself to try and fight my own case, but as you all know, one person without education papers have next to nothing to say against politicians, so it’s really hard work.
But I never give up, and I and one other person with a similar diagnosis as mine decided to start an association together and work against politicians, doctors, and other associations and we called it “Norsk Forening for Cannabinoid Medisin ( NFCM ) translated to Norwegian Association for Cannabinoid Medicine. We hope to change quite a few minds here in Norway and get cannabis as a viable medicine alternative.
I have also been in touch with Bedrocan and the producer of Sativex to check a little around viable options on the world market today, but apart from Sativex, Bedrocan/Bediol it’s also important for us that cannabis in its natural form also is a option for medical cannabis users in the future as its very dependent what strains works best for some people and for other people they need other strains, besides its documented that changing strain once in a while might give better effect on long term use.
On top of this NFCM are currently planning a international congress in Norway to invite doctors, politicians and other people who might be interested in this together with Norwegian doctors to discuss, learn and open minds about this.
Luckily now after 3-4 years of normal meds, my weight is going down again, down from 130kg to 99,8kg as of today, so thank god I quit those meds, SSRI medication is the most scariest substance I’ve ever had in my body, and if I got in a situation where I was forced to put either SSRI medication in my body or heroin I’m not sure what I would have chosen, not that I would ever try heroin, but just a illustration from my side on how bad these medicines have been to me.
So there you have the story on how and why I became a cannabis activist or promoter, I must say that personally I’m only working on the medical aspect of cannabis, but I’m also open for a fully legalization of cannabis if it gets regulated and quality controlled by competent people because I know that cannabis in pure form with the right mix of THC and CBD among other cannabinoids is nothing but good for most people, the cannabis plant is a medical wonder, and should be treated thereafter, not as a gateway drug or something scary, it can save lives, lots of lives, and I even believe that cannabis can be a medicine we could use to ease the pain and withdrawals from people trying to quit drugs.
No, I don’t call cannabis a drug, it`s a medical wonder plant which also can be used for recreational purpose for those who want to do that.